Eminem.Pro’s review on the anniversary Eminem and Shady Records compilation «SHADYXV»

Eminem.Pro’s review on the anniversary Eminem and Shady Records compilation «SHADYXV»

The 15th project by Shady Records is not just a compilation. It’s a new signature album of the label, which demonstrates not only the best sides of all its artists, but also the main purpose — to give MCs opportunity to develop. Within 15 years of its existence the label, founded by Eminem and his manager Paul Rosenberg, has become home to many outstanding performers. And through its anniversary project Shady shows us that the label is not just a «forge» of a great rap — it has become the support and opportunity to make a claim about themselves for truly talented performers, whether they are signed to the label or not.

Review by Igor Basenko / Owner and editor in chief of www.eminem.pro and EJ Magazine
Translation from Russian to English: Elena Takmakova / Managing Editor of www.eminem.pro and EJ Magazine

The first time when we heard about SHADYXV was on 4 June, when Paul Rosenberg wrote in his Twitter a short phrase «Shady XV». Do you remember? At that moment nobody gave it a special significance. In late August, when the great Monster Tour was over, the label loudly announced about its anniversary project-compilation and released the first material. The wave of joy swept around the whole fan community.

Eminem.Pro’s review on the anniversary Eminem and Shady Records compilation «SHADYXV»

The first single of SHADYXV album definitely set the bar for the future record. «Guts Over Fear», track by Em and Sia, became the final song to the movie «The Great Equalizer» with Denzel Washington in the title role. «Guts Over Fear» received a critical acclaim and already in the first days after its release was downloaded more than 300,000 times around the world. And this was just only one song! In «The Great Equalizer» by the end of the movie Denzel’s character Robert McCall accepts himself as he is and becomes a man with a tireless pursuit of justice. Like in the movie, Eminem’s song represents a story about the brave and fearless hero, whose mission is salvation of really helpless people. «Guts Over Fear» is a great, strong song that inspires its listeners. It not only defines the mood of the entire album, but, in some degree, shows the target of Shady Records label: to strive to do the best music, to help artists to claim about themselves, to use all the talent they’ve got and not to be afraid to say «we are the best».

From the first track the anniversary record attracts the listeners’ attention by the speed rap-shooting of Shady Records founder and Billy Stroke’s sample «My Kinda Lover». «If your CDs groove, you have to release them,» — Eminem says. In the similarly-named track Eminem shows the audience that he is aware of everything that is happening on the rap scene and remembers everything. In «ShadyXV» he not only casts a shadow on Action Bronson, Macklemore, Mac Miller and Asher Roth, but also mentions Kendrick Lamar with his «Control», telling everyone that «he could [but didn’t do that] start some shit [in response to the verse from „Control“], what Paul was afraid of [when I again became a blond] [that it won’t work out]». In this track Em «touches» all the things Slim Shady loved to do, and, on the background of mentions of his dealings, we can hear relevant clippings from old tracks. The intro track sounds as a whole, without being split into verses. It is one big verse. This is such a flow of rhymes and thoughts, which are thrown at the listener, like a look back on all these 15 years. And in the similar manner of the observer or narrator, Em goes through the whole album. He looks at what has happened in 15 years.

Eminem.Pro’s review on the anniversary Eminem and Shady Records compilation «SHADYXV»

From the first song «ShadyXV» we see that the accent is made on the best stuff made by Slim Shady — to cause ridiculous scandals, whether on the subject of the racial hatred, misogyny or homophobia. And this time, Eminem managed to provoke them [scandals], just «looking back in the past». Further, in the course of listening of the record, like «sorting out year after year» on the track «Psychopath Killer», Slim Shady tells us: «I went back to my old tricks and intrigues».

Em manages to throw a taunt at Rihanna, saying that she «calls me Pinocchio / She likes when I’m lying / Sitting on my face, she hopes my nose will grow». He even touches Santa Claus 🙂 «I will cut Santa Claus, will break the horns to Rudolf / Wrap him sleeping in cheesecloth, and put out the eyes / I’ll put the head in the basket on the back seat».

The scandals associated with his verses gave an additional PR to SHADYXV. For example, the mention of Iggy Azalea on the track «Vegas» from the duo of Bad Meets Evil, gave the desired result. At this point, it’s very important the main rule of advertising — no matter what the PR is, the main thing is that people talk about you. In one of the verses of «Vegas» Em talks to Iggy Azalea, asking «Iggy, don’t you want to whistle, before I’ll rape you?». And Iggy immediately responded to Slim Shady’s specific humor. In her Twitter she wrote: «I am really bored from all this. A grown man uses the name of a young girl for such purposes. This is very rough, because my 14-year-old brother is a big fan of Eminem, and the artist, who he admired, says he wants to rape me. Super!» Slim Shady is such Slim Shady 🙂 Here again we see Slim Shady being misogynist. Just like he was before. This theme can also be seen in the track «Psychopath Killer», where Em raps «The thought about leaving makes me want to burn your daughter with a soldering iron / How are you doing, mommy? Will you work on the side road? / Can I pick you up?» or «you were with each of the Slaughterhouse already / I don’t want to be the second fiddle / Suck my cello».

The mention of Asher Roth on «ShadyXV» prove how genius Eminem is in terms of the work on his lyrics and their connection with each other. Seems like he doesn’t offend anyone, but, at the same time, he subtly teases people. Remember how on the track «Asshole» from MMLP2 he casts a shadow on Asher Roth? In 2013 on Hot97 Paul Rosenberg said that Eminem did not try to diss him. But what do we see now? Eminem remembers his track «As I Am» and now easily trolls Asher on his albums, mentioning the artist by name.

Eminem.Pro’s review on the anniversary Eminem and Shady Records compilation «SHADYXV»

The track «Die Alone», where Eminem sings along with Kobe, switches for a bit the topic of the record to the side of love. The label decided to please all the categories of fans. In this track Eminem sings about emptiness, loneliness, lost love, breakup. «I hate this sad song / I finally realized how shitty the reality is / But this only refers to our love.» In one interview, Paul Rosenberg said that the idea of «SHADYXV» creation was born, when Eminem found some unpublished material. It seems that this track is one of that type. But, perhaps, this is an attempt to create a radio hit. Or, maybe, it’s just a way to attract attention to that Eminem’s style that we know from the album «Recovery».

How does the new signature album introduce us to the label crew?

In the track «Down» from «SHADYXV» Yelawolf appears to us in his original musical style to find which it took him that long. The style that is so popular among his listeners and fans. In addition to his solo track «Down» Yelawolf performs the hook on the track «Psychopath Killer» and the verse on the track «Twisted». In my opinion, Yelawolf became that very specialty (besides Eminem, who’s impossible to be competed on any track :)) that is present on the whole album. This performer is revealed to the listeners in the best light. In «SHADYXV» his special role and his presence on all the tracks of the compilation are very closely interconnected — we get a complete image of him. If in «Down» Yela just shows his skills, recitative and originality in his technique and in the hook with «Psychopath Killer» he metaphorically calls himself «a real evil villain», then only in his verse on «Twisted» he appears before us in all his glory. Yelawolf became a real surprise on «Twisted», which nobody expected, even his most dedicated fans. I literally re-discovered this performer. Yes! Such Yelawolf has been heard by none of us. One can notice that ePRO pays little attention to his work. After I heard «Twisted», I began to show more interest in his music.

Eminem.Pro’s review on the anniversary Eminem and Shady Records compilation «SHADYXV»

But to show Yela with the «right» side is not the only task set by «SHADYXV». In the light of the forthcoming release of his new solo album «Love Story», that will take place at the beginning of 2015, the label makes a brilliant advertising for its performer. Interest in Yelawolf’s personality and work has increased significantly, and this can be seen in the unprecedented activity of the fan community. In one of his interviews, given shortly before the release of «SHADYXV», Yelawolf shared his thoughts on «Twisted»: «My fans do not expect such thing. It will turn everything upside down. That’s for sure». And this was exactly that very effect produced by the track «Twisted». Here is another interesting thing. In «Psychopath Killer» Yelawolf is mentioned in the track list as one of the main performers, but performs only one short hook, while not mentioned Eminem raps a huge verse. The label clearly focuses listeners’ attention on Yelawolf [but accentuates not in terms of the quantity of material on the album]. The most interesting moment in the course of Yela’s promotion became the inclusion of his song «Till It’s Gone» in the European editions of SHADYXV. This track literally rocked. It is a real radio hit by Yelawolf. At home, in the United States, Yelawolf is well known more than in Europe. And such a move allows the label to show the European listeners its budding performer. This track is also included in the Russian edition.

Eminem.Pro’s review on the anniversary Eminem and Shady Records compilation «SHADYXV»

The label didn’t forget about D12. For the anniversary compilation Mr. Porter produced the track «Bane». The fans will say that on the track there is present inherent D12 mood. Melodic track with sharp rhymes. However, without Eminem. The label makes it clear that D12 is still there, they are still with Shady and that they can still make high-quality material, and, perhaps, in the future we will hear from them something new. Personally I can’t highlight this track. Although, like all fans, I was looking forward to some track-bomb from them.

Shady label’s four-headed monster is presented by two tracks on the album. The already mentioned collabo with Eminem and Yelawolf «Psychopath Killer» could be among the most successful songs of the compilation. Who is the Psychopath Killer? In the track it is, of course, the group Slaughterhouse, or even some of their animated rap skills. The main idea of the track is to tell us that Slaughters are a living lyric body. Each of the performers definitely deserves to be in the band, and their rap skills are something outstanding and eye-catching in the general rap game, but when they are together, there is a real synergy. Add here Just Blaze’s production skills, who put his hand to the creation of this track, and you will get a «Psychopath Killer». But the track does not focus only on Slaughters. Em and Yelawolf are presented in the same rap greatness. And, by the end of the song, the shown synergy inside the Slaughterhouse develops into the synergy of the entire label.

Speaking about the group’s solo track «Y’all Ready Know», produced by DJ Premier, here we can see the expression of all that Eminem would never say in his tracks — Shady Records is the best. «Y’all Ready Know» is sort of an anthem of success, and it’s not just about the group. Throughout the whole track to the old school beats of DJ Premier, the guys glorify themselves and sing about how they are significant in the rap industry. Through the entire track Joell carries his own hook, «Y’all ready? Y’all ready! I knew y’all ready! Slaughterhouse!»

Eminem.Pro’s review on the anniversary Eminem and Shady Records compilation «SHADYXV»

Probably, it is impossible to say that the new material by one or another member of the label is presented in the best light. The crew of the times Shady 2.0 showed excellent material and, if we do not take into account the «bonus» track «Till It’s Gone», which is not actually part of the album and is present only as a marketing move, we can say that the label gave her [crew Shady 2.0] the same attention. As for the group D12, then here one thing is clear — the label is not going to refuse from them.

In the final track «SHADYXV» the label draws attention to its main objective, which has always been always set and that is to give an opportunity to talented artists to create and express themselves. And «Detroit VS Everybody» is a good example of that. Immediately after the announcement of «SHADYXV» track-list it became the most anticipated track of the album. «Detroit VS Everybody» is not just the track, it’s not even a movement, it is, probably, a way of life or state of mind. And now it is not necessary to be signed to the label to be able to participate in a large Shady-game. On the third single of the album Eminem has gathered all star rap-crew motor-city DeJ Loaf, Royce Da 5’9″, Danny Brown and Trick Trick. The track begins with Royce Da 5’9«’s verse and from the first lines he says how hard it is «not to stumble in Detroit», thus setting the theme of the whole track — «Welcome to Detroit, bastard.» The entire track is literally saturated with fury poured out to Statik Selektah’s bit. The track demonstrates the flow and sharp rhymes, typical for Detroit rappers, that are changed by Dej Loaf’s melodic chorus. In the end Em demonstrates his incredible rap skills, literally spitting out the text. But all the performers remain in one theme — Detroit and how it is difficult to climb. This is not just a collabo. It is a higher and closer level of interaction between performers, when it doesn’t matter whether you are on the same label or not. You just create and express your feelings. This is one big battle of Detroit against everybody. The track is finished by Trick Trick’s words: «You either ride with us, or will be rolled down/ That’s what it means Detroit VS Everybody! / Hey Em, let me show this instrumental on the district / Let the kids write a remix / Detroit!». After the release, this powerful song has generated an unprecedented charge of musical energy and a number of remixes from various artists and rap bands. Isn’t that a cool advertising trick that really works?

Eminem.Pro’s review on the anniversary Eminem and Shady Records compilation «SHADYXV»

On SHADYXV the label has taken another great advertising tool — demo version of the track «Lose Yourself». As a track it sounds pretty raw, and that’s not a surprise — it’s a demo version, which has not undergone that colossal wok yet, which we hear in the final version. The track is just of fan value. The label shows us that Paul Rosenberg always says in his interviews — what enormous hard work is done on new material before it gets released.

Somewhat surprising is the selection of the «greatest hits» of the label. Surprising in a good way. «Lose Yourself», «You Don’t Know», «In Da Club», «P. I. M. P.», «Purple Pills», «My Band» — they are definitely the hits and main signature songs for its performers. In the «age» of these tracks they represented the label showing who was the best in the industry. A pleasant surprise was the remix version of «Cry Now», which brought together a team Shady Records 1.0. Maybe, presence of Obie Trice, Bobby Creekwater, Cashis and Stat Qou on Shady Records label cannot be considered very good, but, still, they are not forgotten.

Eminem.Pro’s review on the anniversary Eminem and Shady Records compilation «SHADYXV»

Shady Records 2.0 is also presented by an excellent set. «Hammer Dance» was on everyone’s lips and had an incredible success when the group started to work on its second solo album. At their concerts it was one of the most grooving tracks. But for some reason I wanted the same titled track of the group — «Slaughterhouse» — to be included in the album, which was first performed in 2008 and gave the beginning to the group. It’s a pity it is not released on Shady. The tracks «Let’s Roll» and «Pop The Trunk» are chosen not by chance. They, in a better degree, show the high-level of Yelawolf’s rap skills. All classic tracks of current and former participants of the label are presented to the listener in an equal manner and it’s good to see the fact that no one is left without attention and no one is paid more attention. Classic tracks may not be bad, better or worse. It’s classics — what all the tracks from «V» album are.

Many will say that on this album a lot of attention is paid to Eminem. But is that possible — «a lot of Eminem»? All fans require from Eminem more new material. And what? Here we are given 9 new tracks featuring Eminem, 9 out of 13! And everyone says it’s a lot. Decide already, dear fans. Eminem is the core of Shady Records label, he holds the entire label and all the artists [Shady Records] are closely connected to him. And despite such presence, Eminem does not put himself in the center on any track of the album. Yes, this time the label decided to make Eminem the main engine for sales of the new album, which is not surprising. In the end, it’s his label and for its existence and survival the sales are very important.

Eminem.Pro’s review on the anniversary Eminem and Shady Records compilation «SHADYXV»

Many music publications, British, Western, profiling «rap» and «hip-hop», gave the album not very high ratings and not good reviews, calling «SHADYXV» just ALBUM. But, guys, it’s not an album. ShadyXV is primarily a collection, compilation. No matter how well Shady Records managed to build a connection between all the tracks, no matter how well all the performers did their job, showing the best they are able of, SHADYXV cannot be viewed as a full album. This is an outstanding rap work of 2014, possibly the best one. But the main task of SHADYXV is to draw attention to the upcoming projects of the label, show all artists of the label from the best side and, most importantly, make for the fans a real gift, to give them opportunity to look back on all the years of the label existence and celebrate its 15th anniversary. And, in this regard, «SHADYXV» performed those tasks at 100%. Each of the fans found something they liked.

What is the result of this review? Evaluate «SHADYXV» as a gift to fans, as compilation, as memory, and you will see — absolutely impartially — that this is success. «Pull your fingers out of your ears, because on this record of Shady Records label you will hear a really good music, the best music phenomenon of the label and a great demonstration of Shady crew talents». Perhaps, some things can be called subjective, but after listening to «SHADYXV» personally I’ve got such an opinion.

Eminem.Pro’s review on the anniversary Eminem and Shady Records compilation «SHADYXV»

Review by Igor Basenko / Owner and editor in chief of www.eminem.pro and EJ Magazine
Translation from Russian to English: Elena Takmakova / Managing Editor of www.eminem.pro and EJ Magazine